2018.A.1.5. Use of the Lunar Communications Pathfinder services for CubeSat missions


Jonathan Friend (1)
Susan Jason (1)
Chris Saunders (1)
Ben Schwarz (1)
Alex de Silva Curiel (1)
Matthew Cosby (2)
Berhard Hufenbach (3)
Andreas Borggraefe (3)
Martin Sweeting (4)

  1. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, United Kingdom
  2. Goonhilly Earth Station, United Kingdom
  3. European Space Agency, European Space Technology Centre, The Netherlands
  4. Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey, United Kingdom




Lunar, communications, exploration, commercial, nanosatellites, CubeSats


The Lunar Communications Pathfinder Mission will be a part of a commercial partnership between Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd and the European Space Agency. This mission will enable other low cost Lunar exploration missions by delivering nanosatellites and hosted payloads into Lunar orbit and providing these assets with communications relay and demonstration navigation services. The Pathfinder spacecraft will be supported by a dedicated commercial ground segment.

The system will provide many advantages when compared with mission architectures using only direct to Earth communications, particularly for resource limited spacecraft. The greatly reduced path loss will allow useful data rates to be achieved with low transmit power and using omnidirectional antennas which will allow for simplified operations. Extended and frequent contacts with assets, enhanced coverage and autonomous operation are several ways in which the system can be used to augment missions and mitigate failure which might otherwise result in the loss of missions.

This presentation will explore the various scenarios for operating CubeSat missions that can be realized through the use of the Pathfinder mission’s orbital delivery, communications and navigation capabilities. By reducing operational complexity and risk the Pathfinder mission will enable CubeSat users to execute their mission in an efficient manner, and increase the utility and value derived from their assets.


  • Download the slides in PDF format here (2MB)

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